The hat is currently experiencing a small renaissance. An ever-increasing number of fashion designers are expanding their collections with hat creations, and artists from around the world are breathing new life into the hat. This special exhibition takes visitors on a short journey through the history of the hat while also displaying hats from famous modern-day hat designers and artists. All creations will only be shown in this form at this exhibition in Basel.
Over 100 historical women’s hats, children’s hats, and of course men’s hats represent the fashion trends of the past 200 years. The extraordinary and extravagant creations of the 21st century are represented by over 120 hats designed by 69 artists from 17 countries. This select group of artists includes John Boyd, who worked for Lady Diana, and Stephen Jones – the favorite designer of Rihanna, Katy Perry and Mick Jagger – whose hats are exhibited in prestigious museums all over the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre in Paris. To mention just two of the exquisite artist group.
If an outfit’s accessories are the icing on the cake, then the hat is like the cherry on top. It is an extravagant accessory consciously deployed by men and women alike. A hat is sure to stand out immediately and catch the eye. Wearing a hat is a conscious decision made for the purpose of standing out from the crowd. Hence: Hats off to hats!
Of course, hats have also been worn to protect against cold, rain, heat or wind. They were also used as manifestations of certain political stances or indicators of power and affiliation. So a hat is more than just a head covering – it is a message. Throughout history, great significance has been assigned to whose head was uncovered by whom, thus exposing them as vulnerable and powerless. Taking off your hat when greeting someone was originally a sign of respect only afforded to people of higher social standing by those lower in the social order. Members of certain professional groups wore the hats associated with their professions. Examples of this included top hats and bowler hats as well as caps and helmets.
For women, head coverings had a different function. They indicated, for example, whether a woman was married or single. Married women wore bonnets, which meant something like subject to the man. Women were also expected to keep their hair covered. The wide variety of women’s hats is a result of changing fashions – for example, the small shape of hats, which in 1860/70 were perched atop increasingly larger piles of hair made up of curls and plaits, gave way to true monster hats at the beginning of the 20th century.